What I’m Watching: How I Met Your Mother, season 2, episode 10, Single Stamina

Usually, on this blog, I signal out a movie, or a television series as a whole, or a book. Signaling out a specific episode on a television show might be weird. But I’m going to explain why. The Trump Administration has filed a brief with the Supreme Court that argues that social service agency’s should be allowed to refuse same-sex couples if it violates their religious beliefs.

HIMYM gets a lot of crap. The ending everyone refuses to acknowledge because WHAT even WAS THAT? Barney Stinson and his questionable behavior. Ted Mosby and the dangerous “but-I’m-a-nice-guy” shtick.

But I’m suffering from a Kurt Cobain funk that hasn’t died down to the fact that the world seems to be in shambles so I wanted to watch something that brings out the optimist in me. For all of its faults, HIMYM does make me smile. So.

I’m going to preface this by saying this article will include spoilers, but hell, the show premiered back in 2005, has been in re-runs for forever and streaming. So.

The show opens in the middle of winter, 2006. Robin, Ted, Marshall and Lilly are all in couple bliss. They were content just being with each other, which leaves playboy Barney out in the bars and clubs alone.

Barney, determined to get his friends out of a funk, invites his brother James to town. Here is the plot twist of the show filmed in the early 2000s in the Bush era: he’s Barney, but he’s gay, and black. James, like his brother, is incredibly suave and a hit with the men. The group hits the clubs and Barney is excited to have his best wing man beside him.

But the couples all notice something: James is acting like them. Like someone in a couple. Tired, and would rather be at home with each other than out at a club. Barney is let in on the horrifying truth, that James has been seeing someone. Tom. AND they’re getting married.

A disgruntled Barney does his best to persuade James out of it, determined not to lose his wing man. But then James reveals something else: not only is he getting married, him and Tom are also adopting. Barney finally relents upon realizing that he’s going to be an uncle. The episode flash forwards a year later, and a delighted Barney congratulates his newly married brother, and shares a sweet moment with his nephew talking about all of the future fun they’ll have.

It should be remembered that Neil Patrick Harris, who played Barney, is a devoted family man, married to David Burtka, with a lovely family that includes two children. The couple waited until same-sex marriage was legal to announce their engagement despite having been engaged for five years.

And you know all I could think about was how this television series, from the Bush era, was more progressive in one episode than our current administration has been during their time in office. To some people, television is something mindless to watch. But the thing is, you never know whose watching, or reading, or listening when you create. And as creators, its important to create spaces where those who enter our worlds feel comfortable inside of them. Law makers have the same job. To create safe spaces for the people who have to follow them. All people, not just the ones they approve of.

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